Radiation vs. Chemotherapy for Prostate Cancer

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When is chemotherapy recommended?

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Unlike radiation therapy, chemotherapy is not the main treatment for cancer of prostate. We can say that it may be one of the last options for prostate cancer treatment.

It is sometime used for cancer of prostate that has spread, at advanced stage – particularly if patients are not able to take hormone therapy (the main treatment for advanced stage of prostate cancer, it may be used with/without external radiotherapy) or when the cancer doesn’t respond to the hormone therapy.

And many times, the use of chemotherapy is not to cure the disease. It is more likely to be used to control the cancer, ease some cancer symptoms (such as pain), and improve the life expectancy (or to make patient live longer).

Side effects

All types of medicines for chemotherapy can carry the risk of side effects, as noted before. Those you experience depend on the following factors:

  1. The kind of chemotherapy medicine you have. Different medicine can cause different side effects.
  2. How much (dose) of each medicine you take.
  3. Other treatments you take.
  4. And your own individual factor to react to the medicine.

So it seems that the side effects can vary from patient to patient. But generally, these include:

  1. General feeling of illness.
  2. The risk of getting easier for infection.
  3. Easier for fatigue, weakness, or tiredness.
  4. Vulnerable to have bleeding problems, such as nosebleeds.

These general side effects are usually caused by the mechanism of chemotherapy medicines that can reduce the amount of your healthy platelets, red and white blood cells.

Other possible side effects are sore /watery eyes, thinning scalp or hair loss, sore mouth (there is a chance for patient to have mouth ulcers, too), nail changes, bowel problems (such as diarrhea or constipation), fluid retention, and infertility.

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While there are some options for coping, but many of these side effects are difficult to cope. Other drawbacks of chemotherapy are:

  1. There will be more appointments you make with your doctor. And this can go for several months.
  2. Sometime, the use of chemotherapy medicines can be prescribed together with steroids. And taking steroids can carry other side effects, too.
  3. It doesn’t provide healing. Again, the general goal of the treatment is only to control the cancer, not to cure it!

Benefits

  1. It can help shrink the cancerous cells and slow down their growth without involving surgery or radiation, because you just take pills orally and let them work to fight against the cancer.
  2. Depending on the level of your general health, you don’t need to stay in hospital on the day of the treatment.
  3. You can take the pills in your home, but you usually need to visit your doctor more often for regular check-ups. It may be bothersome – but sometime you may find reassuring with this approach.

*For more guidance, talk with a specialist or doctor!

Citations /references:

  1. http://prostatecanceruk.org/information/prostate-cancer/treatment
  2. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/type/prostate-cancer/treatment/chemotherapy/about-chemotherapy-for-prostate-cancer

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